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You’d have to be beserk(er) not to appreciate this mighty gal.

A small-town “farmersdotter” hits the big time when she joins a warrior woman’s brigade.

Whether it’s bedtime, fish-pickling time, or her monthly bathtime, Helga continually craves stories about her favorite Viking warrior, Ingrid the Axe. Her parents, however, are quick to point out that “Warriors do not come from small mountain villages like ours.” Undeterred, when Ingrid comes to a nearby port city to recruit, Helga is raring to prove her worth. Other warriors mock her clothes and faithful pet wolverine, and when the trials begin she seems out of her element. Fortunately, Helga’s talents shine through, earning her infamy and the eponym Helga the Howler. An author’s note gives Vikings some context, and there are even recommended books and pertinent websites for further reading. The storyline packs lot of action into a few pages, pacing everything at a mighty clip. Humor abounds in the text, as in a section of dialogue written in Minnesotan-esque phrasings (“Yah?” “Yah, sure. You betchya”). Meanwhile, the art is peppy and thoroughly upbeat. Those with a yen for a warrior-woman storytime should pair this with such titles as The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton (2015). Helga and her parents present White, and there appear to be some Vikings of color among the supporting cast.

You’d have to be beserk(er) not to appreciate this mighty gal. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-95783-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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